News & Events

Wednesday 03 September, 2014

Continuing our sustainability journey with suppliers

David Cowell, Vice President Procurement, Coca-Cola Enterprises

We caught up with David Cowell, Vice President Procurement, Supply Chain at Coca-Cola Enterprises to find out more about the progress we are making in sustainability.

Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) launched its sustainability plan in 2011, with a strong emphasis on collaboration with suppliers. What have we done since?

When we launched our sustainability plan, we made the commitment to reduce the carbon footprint of our drinks by one third. We found that 69% of our carbon footprint comes from outside our own four walls, so this is why collaborating with our suppliers is so important in our sustainability journey, and why we have engaged with them closely on this topic.

In 2011 we launched our ‘carbon challenge’, asking our suppliers to support us in reducing our overall carbon footprint. The challenge encourages each organization to ‘Measure, Reduce and Share’: measure and reduce its carbon footprint, develop carbon improvement plans and finally to share carbon information.  We received a positive response that enabled us in 2012 to categorise our suppliers as low, medium or high carbon generators. We introduced KPI’s and targets and our focus is to continue this dialogue with our suppliers and to help them meet our reporting requirements.  

How much progress have we made so far?

We’ve seen significant progress. The carbon footprint of our drinks has come down by 18% over the past 3 years and our work with suppliers has been critical in achieving this! We have also reduced our own operational carbon footprint by 23% and are continuing to reduce this further.  Innovation and technology play an important role and our main focus is light weighting our packaging, new technologies and improving our manufacturing and distribution operations.

For example, we are collaborating with Chep in France, a supplier of pallets, container and crates, to achieve one single chain of supply versus three round trips from site, to shop, to supplier. We continue to expand our backhauling systems, ensuring that trucks are loaded on both the outward and return legs to reduce empty journeys.

Another good example is our new heat exchange pilot program in partnership with Ardagh Group, one of our glass bottle suppliers. In Dongen, Netherlands, Ardagh’s plant is located next door to CCE’s facility. Residual heat from Ardagh’s glass ovens is captured and used to supply heat-driven processes in our own facility. This will provide 30% of the total energy required by our plant and save up to 3,000 tonnes of carbon a year. 

We’re half-way to achieving our goal of reducing our carbon footprint by one-third. We know there is still a lot to do, but we’re definitely on the right path. 

Which other areas are you focusing your efforts on?

While we mainly focused our efforts on carbon in the early stages, we have realized that was just one part of the sustainability journey with suppliers.

In 2012, we started a partnership with sustainability rating company Ecovadis who evaluated our suppliers in four areas – environmental, social, ethical and supply chain management. In collaboration with our suppliers, this information has been used to develop action plans to help them raise their rating. We have seen a tremendous improvement year on year in terms of scores.

Sustainable agriculture is another key area we are working with suppliers on. Working closely with The Coca-Cola Company, we developed a set of Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles (SAGP) that we have asked our sugar suppliers to comply with. For sustainable beet sugar, we have worked with the Sustainable Agricultural Initiative (SAI) Platform to develop a farm-level self-assessment tool. Following a pilot with a number of sugar beet farmers in Europe, this was formally adopted and we are now rolling it out further.  

How important is collaboration with suppliers and how do you see it in the future?

Innovation, collaboration and partnership are the key to unlocking new ideas and opportunities when it comes to sustainability.  

Our suppliers need to manage their carbon usage, improve their Ecovadis sustainability scores and meet the sustainability criteria for agriculture. There is no way to do this other than through collaboration.

Our suppliers are hugely important stakeholders for us and we can’t achieve our sustainability commitments without them. We will continue to engage with them as we look to address the significant societal and environmental issues of our time.

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